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Annan Notes Likud Party Referendum On Gaza

Annan Notes With Interest Likud Party Referendum On Gaza Withdrawal Plan - Spokesman

Secretary-General Kofi Annan is taking a wait-and-see approach after the referendum Sunday held by Israel's Likud party, although the United Nations has previously welcomed the Gaza withdrawal plan proposed by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, his spokesman said today.

The Secretary-General "noted with interest the referendum and was waiting to see how the situation develops," spokesman Fred Eckhard said in response to questions at the daily briefing in New York.

"In principle, any withdrawal from occupied land is a positive development, and may hopefully contribute to a revival of the peace process," Mr. Eckhard said. "The Secretary-General believes that any withdrawal should clearly lead to an end of occupation, and be carried out as part of the Quartet's Road Map, in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority and the international community."

The spokesman noted that these subjects will be discussed at Tuesday's meeting of the Quartet - the UN, European Union, Russian Federation and United States - and the United Nations would wait to see what happens with those talks.

The Quartet is the sponsor of a peace plan that calls for Israel and the Palestinians to take a series of parallel and reciprocal steps, leading to two states living side-by-side in peace and security by 2005.

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